Established in 2010, Bihar Agricultural University (B.A.U.) in India conducts education, research, extension and training activities in agriculture, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of life for farmers. Through consistent training and education programs, B.A.U. empowers farmers with unprecedented access to information, helping them to improve agriculture and livestock production across India.
Indian farmers face numerous challenges, including the lack of awareness about recent developments in the field of agriculture, the lack of consistent training programs to improve their education about crops, and the lack of a common platform to interact with specialists, scientists and stakeholders.
What’s more, many farmers in remote areas do not have easy access to information. In fact, according to research conducted by the National Sample Survey Organization in Bihar, less than 1 percent of farmers get information on modern agricultural technology from the public extension system, and about 13 percent of farmers get their information from input dealers.
Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for a large majority of people in India, and it is the most significant contribution to the country’s national gross domestic product (G.D.P.). To support farmers, the government has used information and communication technologies (I.C.T.) more innovative ways to help farmers enhance their knowledge and skill sets.
I.C.T. for agricultural education
With a pivotal mandate to provide farmers with efficient technical guidance and support through I.C.T., B.A.U. looked for technology solutions that would ensure high-quality audio, video and content-sharing experiences.
“There was an urgent need to ensure that the farmers have access to information at their doorsteps at the right time. We needed to bring in radical changes in the way we deliver our agricultural extension programs to tune it with the fast-changing national and global scenario,” said Dr. R.K. Sohane, Director of Extension Education, B.A.U.
“In conjunction with requests from the faculty, we decided to look for the best video collaboration technology to help us with this objective. We selected Poly, as it met our criteria of providing high-quality video and voice, and also enabled us to integrate into our existing network easily.”
B.A.U. deployed Poly’s video endpoints and bridging solutions to:
• Provide live demos and training for farmers at their locations
• Collect real-time crop analysis by working with scientists to evaluate the performance of crops
• Connect 20 Krishi Vigyan Kendra (farm science centres) with six constituent colleges to support farmers and students
• Share knowledge via video-enabled buses that are driven to farmers’ fields, as a part of the Kisan Gyan Rath programs
• Use drones for surveying, crop monitoring and filming for broadcasting through video conferencing
By deploying Poly’s video collaboration solutions, B.A.U. is replacing face-to-face meetings with virtual meetings, where scientists and trainers can meet and collaborate with farmers from anywhere with HD quality—just as if they were sitting across the table from each other. This has enabled quick information sharing with the farmers and has drastically helped save travel time and costs.
“Before the implementation, it was difficult for us to train our farmers. Scientists had to travel for hours to interact with farmers and provide them with input on the latest technologies or updates,” said Dr. R.K. Sohane. “Today, thanks to Poly’s video conferencing solutions, we can save a considerable amount of time and cost—and increase the reachability of knowledge for our farmers.”
Through this innovative project, Bihar Agricultural University has furthered the education of nearly 100,000 farmers. As a result, the farmers have significantly improved the quality of their lives and the lives of the people they serve.
This story was produced by Marty Sexton and Rachita Mohan.